Summer is coming — the kids are out of school and parents are using up their vacation time to plan awesome family activities. What happens to the four-legged members of your family while you’re out frolicking and enjoying the warm summer months?
Depending on your activity, chances are they’re waiting at home for you to return. Instead of leaving Fido home while you enjoy your vacation, here are a bunch of fun family activities where you can bring your fur babies along!
1. Go for A Swim
Some dogs love swimming, and some hate it. If your pooch is one of those that love the water, plan a trip to the beach. Most states have dog-friendly beaches, and some even have off-leash beaches or dog beach parks where your furry family members can run and play in the surf. Of course, these places are people friendly, too, so pack up the family, make a picnic lunch and enjoy a day in the sun.
2. Take a Hike
Hiking is a wonderful way to explore the great outdoors with the family, especially if you live in an area that’s full of hiking trails. One of the fun things about hiking is that it’s very pet-friendly. Some states may have leash laws that you need to abide by when you’re enjoying the hiking trails, so make sure to check your local laws.
Bring plenty of water for the humans and the four-legged hikers — consider picking up a dog-friendly water bottle to make it easy to keep your fur baby hydrated.
3. Win a Prize
We all think our dogs are the best four-legged critters on the planet, so why not take the time to prove it? Do a quick Google search to find dog competitions in your area, and take a chance to enter. Even if you don’t win, it’s a fun way to spend an afternoon with your family, see a bunch of amazing dogs and put your own furry family member in the spotlight for a little bit.
4. Visit a Festival
Street fairs, art festivals and other outdoor events are great family activities — there’s nothing quite like wandering around, eating street vendor food and seeing all the amazingly creative things that people can come up with. Most of them are dog-friendly too, so put on your dog’s collar or harness and bring them along. Just make sure your pet doesn’t eat too much fried food or funnel cake!
5. Socialize at a Dog Park
Dog parks can be a fun place for you, your family and your dog to socialize and find some new friends. Make sure your dogs are well trained — untrained dogs can be dangerous for other people and other animals.
It’s no different than making sure your children are properly dressed and safely using the equipment at the local playground — proper preparation for human children or furry ones ensures everyone has fun and stays safe while you enjoy the park!
6. Plan a Picnic
Picnics in the park are a great way to spend some time outside, even if you get chased away by ants or rain. Fill a cooler with lunch, snacks and plenty of water to keep everyone hydrated. Pack some dog food or treats so you don’t leave anyone out, and you’re not filling your dog’s belly up with human food — a lot of the foods that we love can be dangerous for our furry friends.
7. Buy Some Produce
At farmer’s markets, you can buy fresh, local produce that was grown organically. It’s better for you and your family, and they can be a perfect spot to take your dog for a pet-friendly shopping experience. Check with your local markets to see which ones are pet-friendly and which would prefer you leave your furry friend at home.
Don’t take them along just to leave them in the car, though. It gets too hot for anyone, human or animal, to survive in a parked car.
8. See Some Sights
How many sights have you seen in your local area? How many tourist-type attractions are in your city or state that you’ve just never bothered to check out? Try a quick Google search to see what pet-friendly sites are available in your area. Many outdoor sites are pet-friendly, but it’s important to check the rules for each individual location.
9. Get Some Dinner
Restaurants aren’t normally somewhere you’d expect to be pet-friendly, but there are plenty of options out there where you can bring your dog to the family dinner. Yelp, the restaurant review website/app, even has an option to filter your search by restaurants that are dog-friendly. Check the reviews to ensure the restaurant hasn’t changed their rules.
10. Plan a Vacation
Not all hotels are pet-friendly, but the ones that are go out of their way to make sure your pets feel as welcome as you do. If you’re planning a vacation anywhere in the country or even in the world, don’t board your pet while you’re gone — take the find a pet-friendly hotel so you can bring them along.
11. Visit a National Park
There are more than 400 national parks in the United States, and many of them are pet-friendly. Plan a trip to a nearby national park and bring along your furry family members — most parks require dogs be leashed, check with the park to find out what their specific pet-related rules are.
Most parks allow dogs in most outdoor areas — as long as you clean up after them — but restrict them from entering park buildings.
12. Go Shopping
You don’t have to leave your furry friends at home when you head out for a family shopping trip. There are stores all over the country that are pet-friendly and have no problem with your dogs coming along for the ride.
Some big chain stores prefer to leave the decision about four-legged shoppers up to their local manager, so it’s always a good idea to call before you head out for your shopping trip.
13. Consider Volunteering
If your dog is super-friendly and well-trained and you would like to take some time to give back to the community, consider becoming a therapy dog team. Therapy dogs don’t require any special training — they’re usually the animals that you see walking around hospitals with their owners to bring smiles to patients’ faces.
If you’ve got the time to volunteer, see what is required in your state to become a volunteer therapy dog and handler team.
Our furry, four-legged family members are as much a part of the family as their two-legged counterparts. Don’t board your pets when you’re traveling or plan alternate activities when you’ve got the option to include them in a bunch of fantastic pet-friendly ways.